The seeds of Lexington County’s steady growth during the past 25 years were planted decades earlier.
Lake Murray evolved into an in-town resort during the past 40 years after its creation in 1930 for hydropower. Nearly half of the 650-mile lakefront is in the county.
Opening Interstates 20 and 26 in the 1960s made commuting to jobs in downtown Columbia easy from sites that home builders could develop less expensively. Retail outlets followed the roofs.
Demand from families drawn by the lake and commutes produced top-rated schools in Lexington 1 and Lexington-Richland 5 attracting more growth.
County population today is estimated at 275,000, up from nearly 168,000 in 1990. By some estimates, it will be 365,000 in 2030 spread across a 758-square-mile county in suburbs, small towns, rural neighborhoods and farms.
As some of its leaders like to say, Lexington County no longer is Columbia’s overlooked cousin but a regional power. “The dynamics have changed,” said Charlie Compton, who retired recently as county planning director.